Collection Description

Naturally, coverage of Africa through time and space is not uniform, but speaks to curricular and research emphases over time. Owing to the interests fostered by our African Studies Program, there has been particular emphases on history and political science, as well art and music, and in particular, literature, mirroring the fact the UW—Madison has the only separate teaching Department of African languages and literatures. In addition, UW—Madison libraries have the strongest holdings in the country relating to west-central Africa—Republic of the Congo, Angola, and neighboring countries. The collection is also strong for English- and French-speaking west Africa. In terms of disciplines while all are represented to one degree or another, history in certainly the strongest, followed by political science, anthropology, and vernacular African literatures.

In quantitative terms, we estimate that the total of Africana materials throughout the Madison campus libraries—including all fields, all formats, all disciplines, and all campus libraries—aggregates to about 277,000 monographs plus serials, or around 320,000 Africa-related volumes. Of these, some 115,000 are in languages other than English. In turn, as the locus of the Department of African Languages and Literatures, UW—Madison’s libraries have long maintained an interest in acquiring materials in the very numerous vernaculars of Africa. As of 2011 we have over 9,500 titles representing 86 African languages, principally Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Lingala, and Xhosa. It should be noted that an untold number of other materials contain data on Africa as part of their content.

As already noted, our holdings for the ex-Belgian Congo/Zaire/Congo are exceptionally strong. Not only have we most of the books and serials relating to this area, from the beginning, but we—alone among U.S. libraries—have long runs of annual reports, official bulletins, and other government publications during the colonial period.